Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Artist Turns Focus to Her First Love: Painting

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Artist Turns Focus to Her First Love: Painting

Article excerpt

Byline: Rhonda Reese

Thanks to a project for some four-legged friends, Meghan Dutton has returned to her first love: art. In turn, the art Dutton created for some pooches has been loved by all.

"I'm excited about the way this turned out," Dutton said of the eight suites she painted for the Julington Creek Animal Walk at 12075 San Jose Blvd. "It was the first time I'd tackled a project that large."

A friend urged Dutton to sketch some ideas and submit them to Janis and Eric Winchester, owners of the veterinary practice, dog park, bakery and boarding facility, after they converted a storage garage into eight suites for dogs.

"I thought they might like one or two of my designs," Dutton said. "I was thrilled when they liked all of them."

Dutton spent weekends and evenings working on the murals. When she had time off from her job as warranty manager for Lenar, the 26-year-old North Carolina native painted.

"I couldn't wait for my mother to come down and see it," Dutton said. "She's my inspiration."

Dutton's mother, Margaret Anne Payne, a retired elementary school art teacher, was speechless when she saw what her best student accomplished.

"She cried," Dutton said. "Knowing my mother and Janis liked what I had done made all the work worth it."

What's not to like? With encouragement and input from Janis, Dutton created colorful, whimsical suites depicting outer space, a cabin, a desert, a beach house, an underwater scuba adventure, a princess palace, a jungle complete with a jaguar, and a bark-and-roll room where Elvis sings a welcome.

The paintings did more than delight dogs and their people. It confirmed the need for Dutton to return to college and finish a long-neglected task.

"I'd finished two years but wasn't sure what I wanted to do," Dutton said. "Now I'm back in school and plan to have a degree in graphic arts by June 2010. …

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